© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
It was a Thursday afternoon when the Giants found out that Bryce Harper had chosen the Philadelphia Phillies. It was ten minutes to noon in the Bay Area when Jon Heyman broke the news on Twitter.
Once the smoke cleared, details of the other offers surfaced shortly after. Surprising to most, the Giants offered Harper a massive 12-year, $310 million contract. Once again, the Giants failed to receive a rose, as another superstar turned down the chance to play in San Francisco. Now that Harper is out of the picture, where do the Giants turn next?
When the Giants re-entered the chase for Harper, Farhan Zaidi discussed the team’s plans in case they didn’t land the slugger. At that time, he stated that if/when Harper makes his decision, the team would pivot back to trade discussions they’ve had with teams prior. Players such as Evan Longoria, Joe Panik, Will Smith, and Tony Watson have been speculated as pieces the Giants may be wanting to trade this offseason. It’s been rumored that the Giants are wanting to trade out of their bullpen surplus, and could include one of their relievers such as Smith or Watson in a potential trade for an outfielder.
With a glaring hole in the outfield, let’s take a look at some players the Giants should target.
The player that could immediately help the Giants, and for years to come, is Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger. The power-hitting, right-fielder just turned 28 years old and is a proven power-threat in just three years in the big leagues. With a breakout season last year, Haniger hit .285/.366/.493 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs with Seattle. Making the All-Star team last season, Haniger also finished eleventh in MVP voting.
The right-handed hitting outfielder is cheap and controllable through 2023, and will likely command a high asking price. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has come out and said the team is not actively shopping Haniger and that a team would have to ‘blow them away’ with an offer. On the surface, it seems the Mariners are highly unlikely to trade Haniger, but comments like this have been made before with former closer Edwin Diaz before they traded him shortly after earlier this offseason. The Mariners asking price will likely be high, but the team’s recent history shows that no player is truly untouchable.
With Zaidi keen on players who can play multiple positions, Nick Castellanos is a great fit for the Giants. The Tigers third baseman/outfielder is a right-handed, power-hitting, multi-positioned player who can provide offensive production and defensive flexibility for a roster that badly needs it. Throughout his career, Castellanos has played most of his time at third base but has also played a significant amount of games in right field. Last year with Detroit, Castellanos hit .298/.354/.500 with 23 home runs and 89 RBIs, following up his 26 home run, 101 RBI season in 2017. Castellanos, who would prefer to be anywhere other than Detroit, prefers a trade from the Tigers and could fall right into the Giants laps.
Via Free Agency
If the Giants were to go the free agent route, there’s not much there to chose from. Once Harper signed, Adam Jones and Carlos Gonzalez were left as the top free-agent outfielders on the market. Both outfielders have had great careers, both playing for just one team their entire career. Gonzalez has been a thorn in the side of the Giants for years in the NL West, and was rumored to be a target of theirs last offseason. Jones is the same age as Gonzalez (33) and is one of the most respected players in baseball. Remembered for his heroics in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jones has tormented teams in the NL East his entire career.
Aside from the great careers both these players have had, they both are 33 years old and past their respective primes. Both are still power threats at the plate, and the Giants might target one of them based off which side of the plate their lineup lacks. Currently, the Giants projected lineup features five lefties (Steven Duggar, Panik, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Gerardo Parra) and only three righties (Longoria, Mac Williamson, Buster Posey). If the Giants feel they need more right-handed power, which they’ve felt for years they’ve lacked, Jones might just be the answer. Slugging more than 25 home runs in seven of his last eight seasons, and owning a career .278 batting average, Jones has proven to be a consistent threat at the plate. Last season, Jones declined in the power department, hitting just 15 home runs.
Both Jones and Gonzalez should be shorter-term deals, maybe a year or two, and would fit into the Giants’ current financial situation without any issues. Right now it looks like Williamson will be given a long look as he attempts to come back from his concussion and re-gain a starting outfield spot after showing some promise last season. With the additions of Parra and Cameron Maybin, the Giants have plenty of depth to go alongside Austin Slater, Williamson, and Chris Shaw, but they still lack starting-caliber outfielders.
Signing Bryce Harper would have locked down an outfield spot for over a decade, a level of consistency the Giants have not had since Barry Bonds. Moving forward, the Giants will have to get aggressive if they want to add another starting outfielder to pair with Duggar and Williamson. Whether it’s the trade market or one of the very few free agent outfielders that remain, we should expect some sort of move or moves sometime soon as Opening Day quickly approaches.